City hires private consultants to probe SFPD ops

The San Francisco Police Department will be overhauled as three consultants are being paid $862,000 to examine operations — from deployment of foot patrols to crime fighting strategies and station redistricting.

The move comes as the department struggles to decrease San Francisco’s homicide rate, which has reached historic highs in recent years. The department also faces criticism of improperly allocating resources while being pressured to put more officers on foot beats.

Three consultants will each examine a specific aspect of the department: foot patrols, police station district boundaries and the overall organization of the department, according to the City Controller’s Office.

City Controller Ed Harrington said the organizational review would ascertain “how you take advantage of having 2,000 police officers and use them in the best way.”

A review of the foot patrols and the boundaries of 10 district stations is mandated by controversial legislation introduced last year by Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi.

The two pieces of legislation required regular foot patrols around each of the stations and an adjustment of the district police station boundaries to reflect crime and demographic patterns.

Police Chief Heather Fong said she welcomed the opportunity to discuss with experts best practices and called it an “exciting time for the department.”

“There are a number of great things about this department. There are lot of great things that people don’t hear about,” Fong said. “But I do think, as in any organization, there is room for improvement.”

Mirkarimi said he supported the review but that it was “unfortunate” the process did not happen sooner as “routines have gone unchallenged for decades.”

“As The City and county population changes and our needs change and new challenges confront us, so should our crime-fighting strategies,” he added.

The organizational review is expected to take 18 months, while the other studies should be completed by the end of the year.

Newly elected Police Commissioner Chairwoman Theresa Sparks said she hopes the consultant work results in an overhaul of the department, adding that the department’s organization has not been examined in decades.

A newly established steering committee — which includes Harrington, Fong and Sparks — will guide the consultants’ work. The project will also include an advisory committee whose membership would include representation from the Police Officers’ Association and the American Civil Liberties Union.

SFPD by the numbers

» 10: Police district stations

» 20: Minimum officers required to walk a foot beat per 24-hour period

» 44: Officers Chief Heather Fong assigned to foot patrols

» 1,971: Officers required to be on active duty by city charter

» 250: Approximate officers on active duty below the city charter mandate

» 5: Academy classes Mayor Gavin Newsom has budgeted for fiscal year 2007-08

» 5: Academy classes budgeted in fiscal year 2006-07

» 23 percent: Raise new contract grants officers during the next four years

» $862,000: Estimated total cost of three consultants

– Source: City Controller’s Office, Department of Human Resources

jsabatini@examiner.com


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